A Holocene molluscan succession from floodplain sediments of the upper Lena River (Lake Baikal region), Siberia

Dustin White, Preece, Shchetnikov, Parfitt, Dlussky

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Floodplain sediments of the upper Lena River near Basovo in south-central Siberia have yielded the most detailed Holocene molluscan succession yet reported from the entire eastern Palaearctic. Over 72,500 shells from at least 28 species of terrestrial and 23 species of freshwater mollusc have been recovered, an abundance and diversity far higher than previously reported from the region. The molluscan assemblages are dominated by land snails, especially members of the genus Vallonia, represented by five species including Vallonia tenuilabris and two poorly known species Vallonia kamtschatica and Vallonia cf. chinensis. Other noteworthy species recovered include Gastrocopta theeli, Carychium pessimum, Vertigo extima (southernmost record), Vertigo microsphaera and the first Asian records of three other taxa (Vertigo geyeri, Vertigo genesii and Vertigo parcedentata). Illustrations are provided for the critical species, since opinions differ about the status of various taxa and the correct names that should be used. The molluscan assemblages show clear successional trends during the early to mid-Holocene, reflecting episodes of dryness/wetness on the floodplain. Drier conditions at ca 6350 14C yr BP coincide with major changes in the archaeological record seen at other sites in the region but it remains unclear whether the two are linked. A prominent charcoal-rich horizon dated to ca 2800 14C yr BP marks a burning event in the catchment, which resulted in a two-fold increase in sediment accumulation rate. Remains of small mammals occurred throughout the sequence including a tooth of Microtus cf. maximowiczii, possibly the first occurrence of Ungar vole west of Lake Baikal. The faunal analyses have been integrated with a detailed pedological study of the sedimentary profile and a chronology was obtained by means of 12 AMS radiocarbon dates. This study provides the first detailed palaeoecological information relating to Holocene molluscan assemblages from the Cis-Baikal region and lays the foundation for future work in the eastern Palaearctic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-987
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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